The smell of Thanksgiving food, and the sounds of fellowship and fun were in the air Thursday at Applebee’s in Salina. The only thing on the menu was turkey, and all the trimmings.
For over two decades the Salina Salvation Army has served a free community-wide Thanksgiving meal at the South Salina restaurant.
People begin lining up outside in in the cold, with a wintry mix of sleet and rain falling, at 10:00, a full two hours before the doors were scheduled to open. The volunteers inside, and the food, were ready to go so they opened the doors about 15 minutes early.
Roxanne Matous from the Salvation Army organized the volunteers.
Matous told KSAL News there were 30 volunteers inside the restaurant, along with another 10 who were delivering meals. Volunteers ranged in age from small children, to senior citizens. There were single volunteers, as well as large groups.
For the dinner 70 turkeys were cooked for the main course. And of course there were traditional side dishes including mashed potatoes, corn, stuffing, gravy, rolls, and pumpkin pie.
While hundreds of people dined inside, the delivery drivers delivered 150 meals to 71 homes.
Matous credited Applebee’s, the Salina Country Club, and the GL Huyett company of Minneapolis as being instrumental in pulling the event off.
The community-wide event attracted a very wide range of people, the homeless, those who live alone and are looking for a little companionship, and groups of families and friends who gathered to share a meal.
As the restaurant began to quickly fill with hungry people, it also filled with laughter, smiles, and love.